Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mini Cooper Logo Sign Project Video Part 4 of 4

Here is the final installment of the Mini Cooper logo sign project that I have been blogging about, along with the last video of it's construction.  In this fourth part of the video sequence I show you how a resin micro-balloon putty mixture is applied to the parts of the sign to fill the weave of the fiber glass cloth.  You'll understand why this is done once you see the video.  Also I get into sanding the parts and priming them to prepare the parts for paint.  Lastly the parts are assembled and the project is declared finished.

This project has taken me quite some time to put together and shoot video of it too. I learned a few things along the way about it's construction and how not to shoot video in the process. Hopefully you'll also learn something new that you can use in your next project.  I'm happy to have another idea completed to start planning my next inspiration that comes along. So sit back and enjoy the last video and keep on tinkering!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mini Cooper Logo Sign Video Part 3

Today again I am happy to post about the third installment video of the Mini Cooper logo sign that I completed a few days ago.  In this video I cover the process of cutting a dome shape into a circular disk of Styrofoam using a hand held hot wire bow and a simple wooden jig.  I also demonstrate how to install mounting blocks into the foam using fiber glass resin and a micro-balloon mixture to create a putty so that screws can be inserted into the fiber glassed part to make it strong enough hang up the sign when it is completed. 

 Lastly I will show you how to mix and apply fiber glass resin and cloth to the parts of the sign using the West System aircraft grade epoxy and resin.  So this 20 minute video has a lot of information in it for you that will give you a good understanding of how to make practically any fiber glass composite project easily in your own workshop.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mini Cooper Logo Sign Video Part 2

Hello Everyone!  Yesterday I posted about my Mini Cooper logo sign that I had built using fiber glass and foam composite construction.  This was an interesting build to say the least and to film it all at the same time was even more of a challenge than I had anticipated. 
   So to continue on you can check out part two of the four part series of how this sign is made. In part two you will see how I shaped the foam after cutting the parts for the sign in the first video and also build a special jig that I put together to create a domed shaped center piece for the sign.
  With the information that I have supplied in this series you will at the least be able to make a sign similar to this one or get some inspiration to create something else all together different using the same construction method.  Enjoy.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mini Cooper Logo Sign Is Completed

Several months ago I started this project and today I can finally put my blessings on it and call it done.  I as most of you know am a big Mini Cooper fan and so I thought I would make a Mini Cooper logo sign to hang in my garage.  It turned out so well that I changed my mind and now have it hanging in my living room!  Here's how the project turned out.  

With this project rather than show all of you how the sign was constructed through a series of photos like I normally do I decided to shoot the entire process on video.  So check out part one of the build in the video below.  I will be posting the remaining three parts of the video build in the next few days so check back to see how it all came together.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Simple Access From The Garage To The Workshop

This past summer a good friend of mine and I had a major project to tackle for my house and the workshop.  When my house was constructed the garage was not designed into the house plan but was added years later.  Why this was done this way?  Who knows.  Could have been lack of money or simply it was never thought of.  In the process of adding the attached garage an inner stairway was never added to the addition.  Again why would you not have an entry way from the attached garage to the inside of the house?  I had to pull the car in the garage in bad weather and then go back outside to get into the house.  A poor plan at best.  Again I suspect it was a lack of planning or money or both. 
  The floor of the garage does not match the height of the main floor of the house or the floor of the basement so a new stairway was installed to at least get into the house and go up to the main floor.  I wanted access from the garage also to the basement at the same entrance.  Garry (my house guy and good friend) sat down with me and showed me how messed up the living room would be if I tried to have both the upstairs and downstairs access.  It looked to be impossible without tearing up half of the house in the process and probably tripling my cost to get an my new entrance to the house.  So that brings me to this project that I can say is or will be completed in the next few days.  
  Rather than make an additional basement stairway for just moving large supplies easily into the workshop I compromised and instead installed a removable access panel to do the same thing at a much cheaper cost.  

 Here is the new entrance to the inside of the house after the construction was done.  After six weeks of work and a lot of dust that project was completed and worth every cent to get it put in.

 Here are the new steps that I now use every day. With a big smile on my face every time there is bad weather outside.

This framed up portion of the wall at the base of the step is where this project that I really want to show you today was started.  The wall looks a little out of place simply because it has a frame around it.  But this is where it all starts to make sense.

In the basement where there was no room for a complete stairway Garry and I decided to include a hidden removable access panel.  As you can see from the panel it is made from a four foot square piece of pink Styrofoam. 

 To hold the light weight panel in place I made four t-handles that slide into place near the four corners of the panel.  They can quickly be installed or removed and hold everything in place nicely. 

 A  four foot square two inch thick sheet of Styrofoam was inserted into a wooden frame and then fiber glassed into place.  This sealed the foam to make it nice and strong and able to last for years without damaging the panel.  The face of this panel was painted green to match the wall color in the stairway to the upstairs of my house. Again being fiberglass this panel is very light weight and the Styrofoam insulates the basement from any cold air that may get in when the garage door and inner stairway door are open at the same time. 

Now with the panel removed I can easily move large pieces of lumber or 4 x 8 sheets of plywood into the workshop with no problem.  While doing the stairway construction we used this access port a lot to use the tools in the workshop or pass materials up or down the stairs.  The only  problem with this access port is that the garage floor is 31 inches above the basement floor.  And after jumping up or down from this height while the stairs was being put it I knew that a small stair step needed to be installed to complete this project and make things easier and a lot safer to use. 

I started designing the small stairs as usual in my computer using my CAD software to figure out just how big they should be.  As I said earlier the height of the garage floor from the basement floor is 31 inches so this gave me a starting point.  I worked out the details of this little project and then was ready to start putting it all together.

So here in the shop the new little stairway is under construction.  I started out  with just a  simple 2 x 4 frame that is screwed together using pocked holes to hold everything nice and tight.  You can see one of the stringers for the steps sitting next to this framework on the table.  

 The stringers took some figuring out how to lay out on the 2 x 10's but with a lot of head scratching and careful measuring and cutting I got it all worked out.  The stringers after cutting lined up perfectly with the simple framework that I  started with and only need to be screwed into place to hold them securely to this frame. 

Next was just a matter of screwing the stair treads to the stringers.  Again I used pocket holes that were put into the stringers themselves.  The screws then went through the stringers and then into the bottom of the stair treads.  This made a nice clean  installation without any screw holes that you could see in the treads. 

I threw the rubber stair treads on to the completed steps just so I could show you how it looks in place for the access port.  Once I get the steps painted a nice gray color that match the other stairway I will install the rubber tread with double stick carpet tape to hold them securely in place.  When you go up or down these steps you only have to duck under the upper edge of the four foot opening to come in or go out.  It works great and is a great accessory to the shop and the garage when I need to move items in or out of either of the spaces.  This access port will never be used on a  daily basis so having to duck in or out of it is well worth it if I can have this kind of access to the shop when I need it.

Here the access panel has been reinstalled back into the wall to close up the opening once again.  As you can see I still need to paint the basement wall from the stairway construction.  I will also paint the access panel at the same time to make it blend in a lot better than the way it looks now with the Pink Panther logo on it.  The steps I will not mounted to the wall as I thought it best to leave them as they are so that I can clean under the step or remove them to make more room in the basement when this access port is not being used.  Either way this makes a great addition to the workshop and will come in handy in the coming years.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Spark Of Inspiration Using Blender 3D

With a fresh layer of snow in my drive way this morning I find it much more inviting to stay indoors and play on my computer than to shovel and snow blow the white stuff.  I am not a big fan of winter and am more than happy to be looking toward spring and warm weather.  With all of that in mind I just thought I would post my latest creation that I put together using Blender 3D.  I am constantly thinking of the saying...."What if....."  A lot of my projects start out that way and with this Blender 3D model it just kind of fell into place when I created it.  

This computer image is of a futuristic shuttle craft.  It all started while I was playing around using Blender one night.  I started with the simple shape of a cube.  Hard to believe that what you see here started out that way but honestly that is what happened.  I kept changing the shape and slowly this emerged from the simple cube.  Kind of like a sculptor slowly chipping away at a piece of stone and seeing something that a few minutes earlier had been nothing that even looked remotely like the end result.

Once the shuttle had emerged and the whole idea started to take shape I knew I needed to add more detail into the computer model to finish what I had started.  Rocket engines, landing gear, doors, windows, interior and the list continued on for hours. Amazingly the fuselage of the shuttle is made up of only one piece.  Seamless in fact. 

 I'm rather proud of my latest Blender 3D effort even if it is just pretty picture as my brother would call it.  Imagine if this image was for example a real live radio controlled model.  Modifications would need to be made for sure to make it fly but the concept is a great starting spot.    Or on a grander scale an actual aircraft!  All things that are created have to start with a spark of inspiration and this as good a spark as any for something much more than just a pretty picture. Something to think about for future endeavors. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Upgraded Paint Pole Camera Mount Project

With the holidays behind us I find time to once again get back to posting a new or should I say post a revised project that I designed and tested almost four years ago.  At that time I had built a camera mount for a paint pole using my 3D printer.  This would allow anyone to get a higher shot of something they normally could not by just standing on the ground.  Here is what the early version of what my mount looked like.  

This mount as you can see was a very simple design that I could use for my point and shoot camera.  

As you can see for such a simple mount it needed a number of 3D printed parts and the paint pole needed to be modified so that the camera could me mounted to the pole.  This worked "OK" but the idea of having to modify the paint pole and the fact that you could only guess as to where the camera was shooting had some very big drawbacks in my eyes.  No matter what, I posted the files for this camera mount on the "Thingiverse" 3D files website almost four years ago and over 1000 people thought it was a good idea too by downloading the files for the mount. Needless to say this and one other project were the only files I posted to that site.  The other project was for an enclosure for my Makerbot 3D printer.  That was downloaded over 9000 times!  Sorry guys I don't work for free and won't post my projects there again.
  I never gave up on the idea of improving my paint pole design though and that is what this post is all about.  So here is what version two of this mount now looks like.

This is my latest creation and updated version of the paint pole camera mount that I originally started with. As you can see it is quite a bit more advanced looking and rightly so. 

The camera mount is much more refined now with a 90 degree tilting head (45 degree up or 45 degree down).  The eleven foot paint pole that I use also carries a 7 inch LCD color monitor that is connected directly to my Canon HD video camera with a 10 foot long HDMI cable.  Now there is no guessing as to where the camera is pointing when shooting video or still photos.  This head also has aluminum rod legs that allow the pole to be laid on the ground yet keep the camera off of the ground when having to make adjustments to the rig. 

The camera mount has a few more parts in it than the first design had but now is capable of being mounted onto to any unmodified paint pole. The pole mount has been designed with a built in  threaded female end that can be screwed on to a standard paint pole.  A big plus just starting out.  The tilt head has seven different positions from level to 45 degrees up or 45 degrees down.  One carriage bolt holds the tilt head assembly in position and is secured with a simple wing nut on the end.

With the help of a couple of "U" bolts and one 3D printed part I was able to mount the monitor to the paint pole rather easily. The original use for the monitor was to view video in a automobile.  I incorporated the original mount for the monitor into my design and it worked out to be very strong and simple to modify and assemble. On the right in the photo above is the rechargeable 12 volt battery pack that powers the monitor. It is mounted into a battery carrier that is held in place using a simple Velcro strap. 

The monitor is slid onto the mount and held in place using a metal flange and friction wheel to tighten the monitor into place. 

This is a just a simple view of what the monitor sees when the camera is on.  A nice clear image to be sure.  Over the face of the monitor I cut a small piece of thin plexiglass that is held in place again using Velcro strips.  This will help protect the monitors screen from getting scratched or bumped when I am using it. 
  The only thing missing in the photo is a sun shade that is mounted up and over the top of the monitor to keep the sun off of the screen.  The sun shade is held in place again with Velcro for easy on and off use when needed.
  The entire assembly weight of the camera, camera mount, paint pole, video monitor and monitor mount, plus monitor battery and HDMI cable only comes to a grand total of five pounds!  A very light package in all.  I looked into doing this same thing years ago using a GoPro camera and my Ipad.  The cost of a GoPro goes for around $300 - $400 not counting anything else.  Not counting the cost of a Ipad or a IPhone. The camera mount including the video monitor cost around $100.  The video camera and the paint pole I already had.  Even with these items included the entire rig could be put together for far less than a GoPro alone so I am money ahead for sure. 

To illustrate the difference between shooting on the ground I choose one of my favorite subjects..... my Mini Cooper.  This is a nice shot that I took from ground level.  

This is the same shot using the paint pole camera mount.  Quite a difference being up eleven feet in the air.   As you can see I was lucky enough to get anything shot with the lack of really cold weather and snow but it gives you the idea as to why I want to use this kind of mount.  
  This also gives me more ideas once we get back to warm weather!  Imagine shooting a parade using this mount!  You never have someone standing in front of you again with their head in the way.  Or how about a wedding!  The bride would look even more stunning with a camera shot from this view.  Or maybe a car show looking over a sea of classic cars!  The ideas just keep on coming.  Bring on the warm weather.... unless you have some ideas to capture video or photos of skiing or snowboarding of course.

Here's the quick little video that the Mini Cooper photos were taken from.  It gives you a better idea of what video will look like using the new paint pole camera mount.  It will be a nice accessory for my video camera. If there is enough interest in this project I will put together a set of plans with the 3D printer STL files, parts list and instructions so you can build one for yourself.  Let me know and I'll start working on to get it to my plans and projects page.